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Portland Sea Dogs to pay game-day employees despite no games being played

'It was never a question of if we would do it but rather figuring out how we could do it'

PORTLAND, Maine — A sure sign of spring is April baseball—usually, that is. Like most sports and pastimes, though, baseball has been put on hold due to the coronavirus.

The Portland Sea Dogs, a Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, have followed suit with Major League Baseball (MLB) and Minor League Baseball (MiLB) and postponed their season.

For much of the workforce in Maine and across the country, no work means no pay. But the Sea Dogs owners Bill Burke and Sally McNamara figured out a way to make sure their 215 game-day employees would still be paid, despite no games being played.

“It was never a question of if we would do it but rather figuring out how we could do it,” Sea Dogs president and general manager Geoff Iacuessa said.

The organization has 18 full time employees who are all currently working for home, Iacuessa said. The full-time employees, who meet online several times a week and are staying connected to fans via social media, will be paid as usual and the 215 game-day employees will be paid once a month for the number of scheduled games at a rate equivalent to their 2019 per-game rate.

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“So, if all 70 [home] games are cancelled for the season everyone that worked last season and signed up to return for this season will be paid the same this year as last year,” Iacuessa said.

Revenue for franchises depends on games being played. Ticket and concession sales and money from advertising and sponsors will be lost if the entire 2020 season isn’t played.

Iacuessa said he and the owners know this is going to be the Sea Dogs’ most challenging year since coming to Portland, but said it was very important to the owners that they stand with their employees during this difficult time.

RELATED: $1 billion for Maine small businesses approved through Paycheck Protection Program

The Sea Dogs applied for the Paycheck Protection Program, made possible by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to be able to keep workers on payroll. On Thursday, it was announced that $1 billion in forgivable loans were approved for Maine businesses through the program.

“All businesses have difficult decisions in front of them, as do we, but this was something that was really important for us to take on,” he said.

Jim Semons, a 71-year-old who has been an usher for the past six seasons, told the Portland Press Herald he assumed he wouldn’t get paid this year. “When I got the letter [from Iacuessa], I couldn’t believe it. The Burkes didn’t have to do this. They make you feel valued. It’s genuine.”

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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